Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective

  • Grand Coteau, LA
  • www.festivalofwords.org

Mission Statement

The Festival of Words Collective strives to inspire creative expression and a higher level of literacy for residents of St. Landry Parish, and throughout Acadiana; the collective will contribute to the advancement of artists as well as the community.

Main Programs

  1. Festival of Words
  2. Casa Azul Teaching Artist Program (CATAP)
  3. Drive-by Poetry
Service Areas

Self-reported

Louisiana

FOW's area of operations comprises St. Landry, St. Martin, and Lafayette parishes. To date, the towns served are Grand Coteau, Arnaudville, Opelousas, St. Martinville. Eunice, Carencro, Lafayette, Lebeau, and Lawtell have also hosted visiting writer workshops, readings, and/or Drive-By Poetry performances. As FOW increases its financial and organizational resources, it can continue expanding its reach to more remote geographic locations.

ruling year

2010

Principal Officer since 2010

Self-reported

Ms. Patrice Caryl Melnick

Keywords

Self-reported

Festival of Words; literary; literacy; writing workshop; drive-by poetry

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EIN

30-0627409

 Number

8381057061

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C. (S99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

•  
Community support for
Festival of Words, now in its 5th year. Unique to St. Landry/St.
Martin/Lafayette parishes, FOW hosts year-round literary readings capped by an
annual week plus weekend of 15
school and public writing workshops featuring 7 artists of national and regional stature;
public readings with Q&A sessions; an open-air, open mic stage; drive-by
poetry at non-traditional venues by youth supervised by teaching artists; and
oral history events. FOW prizes its diverse socioeconomic/educational mix of established
and emerging writers and multigenerational audiences, and is often the first
contact residents have with literary artists, as some 28.3% of St. Landry
residents live at or below the poverty line and 22% of those 16 years old or
older lack basic prose literacy skills. FOW aims to stimulate appreciation of written
and oral prose and poetry, to encourage literacy skills and academic success.

•  
Launch of Grand Coteau
Voices: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated, a popular new monthly series providing
elders of the Creole community a venue for sharing life stories and local history.

•  
Inspired by FOW, teacher
and student-led creative writing activities emerged in public schools: writing
clubs, poetry slams, literary showcases, and open mic readings, growing from 0 to 6 in the past 2 years.

Top Three Goals:

•  
Expand FOW author visits and schedule multiple, sequential school workshops,
including outreach to geographically remote areas, part of our long-term goal
to serve every public school.

•  
Launch an Education in
Schools pilot program of year-long Drive By Poetry/author workshops and performance
opportunities, with teach-the-teacher training of educators to lead writing/performance
workshops in their schools.

•  
Grow FOW organizational resources
and administrative capacity to support program goals and marketing activities, through
a combination of enhanced grant-seeking, earned-income activities, board
development, and community support.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Festival of Words

FOW’s
annual literary festival culminates our year-round program of 36-plus free
public readings by more than 80 writers at Casa Azul community arts space in
Grand Coteau. A 3-day weekend caps festival week and some 450 adults and 500
youth gather for: public readings by 6 to 8 authors selected for the quality of
their work, accessibility, and appeal to diverse audiences; drive-by student
performances in shops, cafes, and chapels; a book fair; oral history
storytelling; and free workshops by nationally-ranked and emerging writers and
spoken word artists. Authors teach creative writing workshops in St. Landry/St.
Martin/Lafayette parish public schools and share readings with youth on the
community stage; 2012 authors include Jarvis DeBerry, Kelly Harris, Randall
Kenan, Bonny McDonald, Patrice Melnick, slam poet Chancellor “Xero” Skidmore,
and Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane. The festival also includes how-to sessions
on starting community and in-school creative writing groups.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)

Adults

Budget

$16,000.00

Program 2

Casa Azul Teaching Artist Program (CATAP)

FOW currently presents 80-plus authors in 36 free
year-round public readings at Casa Azul. Authors read for free and venue space
is donated. Based on our work placing festival authors in public schools, we
seek to expand impact on youth and utilize emerging writers, by placing 24
local authors and 6 teaching artists in schools in St. Landry/ St.
Martin/Lafayette parishes to conduct creative writing/performance classes and
teach-the-teacher workshops to equip teachers in these techniques. A part-time
Schools Coordinator will manage school outreach, coordinate with the year-round
school calendar and curriculum, develop content with teacher input, and conduct
program evaluation and assessment.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Other Named Groups

Budget

$14,720.00

Program 3

Drive-by Poetry

Drive-by Poetry is one of FOW’s most popular programs,
an in-school performance workshop for public school students that aims to
instill in youth an intimate knowledge of literature and engender confidence
and ease with the spoken and written word. After instruction and classroom
preparation, students perform spoken works in nontraditional public spaces,
such as cafes, grocery stores, beauty salons, and churches. Current resources
allow the DBP to workshop with 75 youth in three schools, then
transport/supervise students at multiple sites one day of the annual festival.
A part-time Schools Coordinator and part-time teaching artist will enable DBP
to offer two student workshops apiece at 5 schools (a total of 10 workshops and
250 youth) and two community workshops (50 attendees). Classes and events will
be recorded for teaching purposes.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Other Named Groups

Budget

$3,440.00

Service Areas

Self-reported

Louisiana

FOW's area of operations comprises St. Landry, St. Martin, and Lafayette parishes. To date, the towns served are Grand Coteau, Arnaudville, Opelousas, St. Martinville. Eunice, Carencro, Lafayette, Lebeau, and Lawtell have also hosted visiting writer workshops, readings, and/or Drive-By Poetry performances. As FOW increases its financial and organizational resources, it can continue expanding its reach to more remote geographic locations.

Additional Documents

Funding Needs

FOW has succeeded to date, led by a volunteer Executive Director with all-volunteer support. But this model has reached its limits, and additional funding is needed to: a) support expansion of 3 programs with paid, part-time coordinators; b) design a comprehensive online media presence and fundraising portal; c) improve board capacity, initiating strategic planning. Build on Success: Program Expansion in Schools Add Teaching Artists component to our year-round series of readings and Festival programming. 24 authors, 6 TAs to be paired with schools; film and archive content for instructional purposes. A mini-pilot for Educaton in Schools 2014 rollout. Est. cost $14,720. Add a second Drive By Poetry instructor and schools coordinator to annual Festival. Est. cost $3,440 Promote Success: Marketing and Fundraising Hire a digital media specialist/designer to (re)design and implement website, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr presences as part of a social network marketing/fundraising campaign. Est. cost $3,500   Plan for Success: Capacity Building  Hire a nationally-recognized literary nonprofit consultant to assist the board with organizational and strategic planning. Est. cost $7,500 Strategically recruit new board members to broaden/deepen FOW resources

photos


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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective

Leadership

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  • Board Chair and Board Members
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Principal Officer

Ms. Patrice Caryl Melnick

BIO

Patrice Melnick holds a bachelor's degree in English and a Masters in Creative Writing. She taught creative writing and English at Xavier University for thirteen years where she founded the first creative writing minor at a historically black college.  She also founded Xavier's student creative writing journal, which is still in production 6 years after her departure.

 

Melnick served in the Peace Corps in the Central African Republic where she taught English as a Second Language for two years.

 

In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, Patrice Melnick moved from New Orleans to Grand Coteau, Louisiana where she started her own business, a gift shop with a dedicated arts space, Casa Azul.  She began holding open mics, which lead to a popular literary program.  This lead to an annual festival and establishment of the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective.

 

Drawing on her work as a published author, business owner, educator and arts administrator, Melnick is passionate about and committed to literacy,  education and creative expression.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The initial inspiration of the first open mic held in Grand Coteau six years ago was to provide community writers of all abilities a venue for literary self-expression.
To serve Festival of Words' deeper goal of promoting and supporting literacy and as part of the creative approaches we take in our outreach to nontraditional audiences, we highlight oral history programming along with our more "literary" poetry and fiction events. This way, we honor the familiar traditions of our diverse communities and create an atmosphere of appreciation and mutual respect among different generations and cultures. We seek to engage families and multiple generations, introducing them to literary arts through participation and by exposure to accomplished authors who are friendly, community-minded, effective educators and whose writings are accessible to a larger audience. We simultaneously demystify the ideas of literature, writing, and creativity, while at the same time elevating and honoring the written and spoken word as a means of expression. Ultimately, we aim for FOW listeners and participants to discover that their words are power: a means of self-determination, communication, and power both social and political.

Board development draws from literary, educational and business organizations. Key members include literary luminary and past Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque, retired Georgia Council for the Arts community arts manager Janice Eaton Akers, and others from various fields.
Many talented and energetic volunteers support the Festival of Words programs. Inspiring, accomplished authors offer their services at a fraction of the usual cost in support of our mission to make literacy and the literary arts available to all.

We strive to increase and diversify funding; there are limits to growth based upon volunteer support. We seek funds from the community, corporations, grants, and through sale of services such as community creative writing workshops. The broader our support, the more we can fund key organizational leaders such as a volunteer coordinator. Each time we fund an administrative leader, such as a drive-by poetry mentor or educational liaison, our programming and outreach strengthens.

With more systematic and comprehensive organizational, board, and management systems, we can strengthen our organization and our impact on the community. With board growth, we gain increased resources of knowledge and social connections which lead to a greater impact on the education of citizens of all ages in our area."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Dr. Darrell Bourque

Poet Laureate Emeritus, State of Louisiana; Professor Emeritus of English and Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Louisiana, Lafayette; board member, Ernest J. Gaines Center

Term: Sept 2011 - Sept 2013

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?